Manuel Pellegrini will approach Manchester City’s Champions League tie against Barcelona in confident mood after declaring that the Spanish champions are not as good as they were two years ago and insisting they are not unbeatable.
Barca were European champions for the second time in three seasons in 2011 but Pellegrini, who came up against them during his time in La Liga managing Villarreal, Real Madrid and Malaga, believes they are a weaker side now.
The Chilean feels the turnover of coaches at the Camp Nou, where Gerardo Martino has come in after Pep Guardiola and Tito Vilanova left the club, has affected Barcelona.
Pellegrini said: “Barcelona is not the team it was two years ago. I don’t know exactly what happened inside Barcelona. They changed three managers in the last three years, maybe the performance of the players is not the same, maybe the players are older.
“There are a lot of reasons why teams change their performance. They continue to be a very good team but two years ago they were more unbeatable than today.”
The City boss also insisted that Lionel Messi is not unstoppable, citing Bayern Munich’s success in the semifinals last season.
He added: "It's not impossible but difficult. Last year, Messi played against Bayern Munich and they lost that."
Pellegrini also confirmed that right-back Micah Richards, who injured his hamstring in the 3-2 Champions League group-stage win over Bayern Munich, is likely to be out for at least a month.